Napster of 1999 better than legal music services of today

Founders Fund Managing Partner Sean Parker attends the eG8 forum in Paris May 25, 2011. Credit: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Wonder how good music services would be if Napster survived? So do Sean and Shawn.

Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, Napster co-founders, held a “what-if” party at SXSW, wondering how much better music services would be today if Napster hadn't been shut down. Even though Sean Parker is pushing Spotify, he and Fanning still feel the music service bar was set by Napster in 1999. Except for those lawsuits masquerading as music files, of course.

Their point resonates. If only 10 percent of Napster users paid for a legal service that worked with the record companies, there would have been over 2 million subscribers. Add in the fact Napster had rudimentary social networking features, and the idea that Napster predated could have beaten iTunes as the market leader begins to look possible.

Napster love

The point is - really - if Napster had become legal, a lot of the P2P scene wouldn't have developed to the extent it has today.

TheOtherHobbes on theregister.co.uk

Napster for me, was about finding people as much as music. I was part of a community of people that were super stoked to talk about some new indie band.

Aloisius on news.ycombinator.com

I actually purchase much less music now than I did in the Napster era. I'm not going to purchase a CD if I can't listen to it first.

Melissag118 on cnet.com

Napster was also one of the first geek-tools to really hit mainstream, and boy was that weird.

xpose2000 on news.ycombinator.com

Napster meh

Newsflash: Youtube has replaced Napster. You can search for any song and listen to it for free, with video and lyrics if you want. Even discuss in the comments, and see recommended videos based on what you're watching.

Dani 210 on cnet.com

Napster was stupid bad at search. There obviously was no catalog resolution and the quality of the results was abysmal.

brianwhitman on news.ycombinator.com

Other services

Seems to me that the Spotify API opens up all sorts of possibilities for music discovery.

urbanjunkie on news.ycombinator.com

There is no way the control freaks at the labels will allow anything Napster like to exist.

Tom 35 on theregister.co.uk

On Spotify, the mandatory Facebook crap and the spam on everyone's news feed is really annoying.

Jarskaaja on cnet.com

Getting the music organized today would be no problem. Getting the music legally in all countries remains a huge problem (see Spotify's slow rollout to countries).

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